By Argie C. Aguja
Senior Features Writer, The Philippine STAR
The rapid spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) across countries and territories has prompted the World Health Organization (WHO) to declare the pandemic as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, urging governments worldwide to step up measures to protect its citizens. As there is still no proven and tested cure for COVID-19, governments worldwide are relying on infection prevention and control (IPC) strategies to curb the spread of the dreaded disease.
In the Asia Pacific region, a combination of different measures is being employed by authorities to slow down the trajectory of new infections and manage the treatment of existing cases. Here are the measures being enforced by some Asia Pacific nations with number of COVID-19 confirmed cases, recoveries, and deaths as of April 6, 2020.
The Australian government will offer parents free childcare in a bid to keep 13,000 child care centers open during the coronavirus pandemic, a subsidy that will cost AU $1.6 billion over three months.
Confirmed cases: 5,750
In just 10 days, the Chinese government built the Huoshenshan Hospital, a large emergency specialty field hospital that is staffed by health-care workers from all over China.
Confirmed cases: 81,708
On March 24, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a countrywide 21-day lockdown and an expanded testing protocol was established to cover more symptomatic patients and high-risk individuals.
Confirmed cases: 4,288
In Indonesia, government announced a shutdown of businesses, non-essential services, religious and social activities, as well as self-isolation directives and mandatory health checks.
Confirmed cases: 2,273
In east Asia, the Japanese government established network of specialized COVID-19 consultation centers and 0utpatient wards that is separate from the civilian hospital system.
Confirmed cases: 3,654
After a four-week Movement Control Order (MCO) was enforced by Malaysia on March 18, a $6.58-billion stimulus package was announced to soften the economic impact of the lockdown.
Confirmed cases: 3,662
To better respond to the pandemic, the New Zealand government introduced a four-level country-wide alert level system that is similar to the country’s existing fire warning system.
Confirmed cases: 911
President Rodrigo R. Duterte gained emergency powers and allocated P275 billion for social amelioration to benefit 18 million low-income families and struggling households.
Confirmed cases: 3,246
In Singapore, liberal testing procedures were put in place and anyone who turned positive was quickly admitted in hospitals while their contacts traced and strictly monitored.
Confirmed cases: 1,309
The South Korean government resorted to rapid approval of test kits and even pioneered a drive-thru testing procedure where thousands were given quick access.
Confirmed cases: 10,284
In Taiwan, the swift and multi-faceted approach leveraged into big data and analytics by merging the national health insurance with its immigration and customs database.
Confirmed cases: 363
Thailand is the first Asian country to participate in WHO’s “Solidarity Trial,” a multi-country clinical study that is part of a rapid global search for drugs to treat COVID-19.
Confirmed cases: 2,169
To curb the spread of the pandemic, Vietnam boosted the manpower of its health sector by conscripting medical students, and retired doctors and nurses to join the fight.
Confirmed cases: 241
As the number of global cases continue to rise, the Asia Pacific region is at the front and center in the battle against COVID-19. While a sure-win formula is yet to be determined, the most promising approach lies in the combination of not just a few, but all the best practices that Asia Pacific countries have put in place.
For more #COVID19WATCH contents, visit www.bworldonline.com/covid19watch.